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Employee management can be more complex in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico labor laws can be said to favor the employee. We have also heard from a number of sources that lower wage, non-exempt employees commonly know the employment laws well and hold employers accountable to them. If you will be managing employees of your own, you must become familiar with these laws, especially if you are required to maintain a certain number of employees to remain compliant with a tax exemption grant.

Because management of employees can be complex, our company offers business management services to oversee your human resources needs. We assist our clients in hiring and management of employees, as needed.

Below are some important notes (though this is not intended to be comprehensive).

 

Employment is not “at will:

It can be more difficult to release an employee in Puerto Rico.  If you wish to terminate an employee due to their performance, it must be for just cause, and you must be able to show documentation of disciplinary actions taken over time to remedy the situation.  It is also possible to lay off an employee because their position has truly been eliminated for demonstrable, valid business reasons.

In addition, it is possible for an employee to be hired for only a pre-defined length of time or to have an initial probation period of up to 90 days.  These types of arrangements would need to be explicitly stated in the employment contract and cannot continue indefinitely.

Firing someone without just cause can result in owing severance compensation based on years of service.

 

Paid Time Off

Puerto Rico requires employers to pay for time off in situations not required in the mainland US.

Mandatory paid maternity leave: Employees are entitled by law to 8 weeks paid maternity leave. Paid leave rights also apply to miscarriages, abortions, and adoptions of children 5 years or younger. The Working Mother’s Act also protects employees from pregnancy discrimination.

Vacation leave: All non-exempt employees are entitled to 1.25 days of paid vacation leave for each month in which they work at least 115 hours, though they aren’t entitled to take this leave until it has accrued for an entire year. Employers owe employees payment for vacation time not taken upon termination.

Sick leave: Non-exempt employees are also entitled to accrue one day of sick leave for each month in which they work at least 115 hours.

Paid Christmas Bonuses

Puerto Rico employees are legally entitled to a bonus in December of 6% of the first $10,000 of the employee’s annual wages.

PROMESA Changes

Exempt employees: The July 2016 FLSA rule change that doubled the minimum salary for employees defined as exempt from overtime does not apply in Puerto Rico.  The minimum annual salary for exempt employees in Puerto Rico currently remains at $23,660, but this matter is subject to a review underway by the Comptroller General of the United States.

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